Since June 6, 2019, Raul Covarrubias has been sitting in the main prison in Santa Clara County awaiting trial.
Although his fast trial rights promised to make a decision before July 3, COVID-19 has left everything out of the window. Covarrubias, who has no criminal history, tested positive in prison two days later.
In an interview in prison, the 28-year-old from East San Jose described how he experienced debilitating fatigue, severe headaches and breathing difficulties-all the common symptoms of infectious coronavirus.
He said that after being isolated in a small cell that looked like rodent droppings, he and nine other sick people entered the “hell”
He said that during a month of intense life in a mental hospital, only Tylenol, cough syrup and cough medicine were provided, and sometimes prisoners did not fall asleep until after midnight.
Covarrubias said: “I tried to keep a clear head and a positive attitude, but it was really difficult to deal with,” especially when my compatriots were escorted to the hospital. “We were treated as trouble, we didn’t follow the rules. We didn’t ask to be here; we are not sick people.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic closed Santa Clara County on March 17, Covarrubias said he has been in contact with prisoners, prison staff and representatives of the Sheriff’s Office. As we all know, law enforcement officers flirted with mask missions, most notably during the protests held in San Jose at the end of May after the death of George Floyd (George Floyd). Several staff members were observed to enter the prison recently without wearing face masks.
Covarrubias said: “No one is prepared for the entire pandemic, but they are trying to do it to the minimum.” “My health is in their hands, and I feel that they are not fully responsible for it… If the person in charge does not follow the rules, why? Will anyone else?”
According to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, these rules eventually changed, including upgrading water buckets to COVID-19 designated showers and staggering free time outside the cell. Sergeant Michael Low said that as of September 11, only one inmate in the prison system was positive for COVID-19. As of September 10, the system has reported 178 cumulative cases in prisons.
Lauter said: “The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office attaches great importance to the health and safety of caregivers.” “This prisoner is currently being held in a cell in the main prison infirmary and is subject to medical staff and the Department of Production and Marketing. Hourly care and supervision.”
Covarrubias, who has recovered from the virus, said the destruction has been completed.
Covarrubias’ lawyer, deputy defender Lara Wallman, has four clients tested positive-all people of color.
Covarrubias, accused of assisting and teaching the attempted murder of the murderer, was unable to participate in the defense due to illness. Warman said that even after the three bail bonds were deemed to be at high risk of complications and death due to high blood pressure, asthma and weight, they were refused bail.
The bail was denied because Covarrubias was considered a threat to public safety.
Wallman said: “In terms of the legal system, I consider myself a pessimist, but I have never seen the failure we see now.” “This is already an uphill battle, but when you deprive someone of The right to bail, the right to trial, and then failing to protect them are actually killing them.”
In a recent motion to deny bail, on July 23, a doctor argued that compared with Kovalubias in the community, the infirmary provided “a higher level of medical services” and advised them Self-quarantine at home.
Covarrubias said he was worried that he would get sick again in the event of another outbreak, especially considering that the prison was not designed for interactions with longer social distances.
Covarrubias said that the only thing he spends every day is talking on the phone with his two children, mother, fiance, sister and extended family. The call charge is $2.50 per 15 minutes.
His mother Cynthia Jimenez said that the only reason she knew something went wrong was that the calls stopped.
Jimenez said: “I am so relieved to learn that he is still alive and okay. “I am scared every day. First of all, this is a low threshold. Now that COVID has emerged, I think it really exposes the regular experience of these detainees. “
Although the outbreak has made headlines and has caused drastic changes in places such as nursing homes and schools, Jimenez said that prisons are still unsafe because they exist in people’s minds.
Jimenez said: “No one wants to see what happens behind the prison door, because they think they are in prison for a reason, they don’t mean anything.” “They are still human beings, they are still people, they Still have rights. I think if people also realize that they are also suffering and dying, people might see that they are not just abandoned people.”
This is one of the reasons why the inhumane and unhealthy prison conditions of prisoners continue, and people have been disconnected, said William Armaline, director of the Institute of Human Rights at San Jose State University and professor of sociology.
Armaline said: “People think that they can go to jail because they don’t think they will go there, that is for the bad people, for the broken people.” “We believe that we are separated from their lives. Now there is something inside. Real crises that affect all of us, so we can’t actually deal with them.”
He pointed to the efforts of public defenders and militant organizations (such as Silicon Valley De-Bug) that attempt to break down social and political barriers and hold public officials accountable for law enforcement and change.
Before that, people like Covarrubias were sitting in prison waiting for a chance to defend themselves. Despite claiming innocence until proven guilty, Armaline argued that the sentence without bail is a conviction before the crime, because when the defendant stays in prison, jobs, property and rights are often lost.
He said: “Being detained there, you have been punished.” “This is a life-changing experience. You have not been convicted. The only thing that makes your experience unique is if you are rich and powerful.”
Contact Katie Lauer at [email protected] Or follow @_katielauer on Twitter.